Daily Archives: January 16, 2004

Junior Writhes–Er, Wreaths (Updated)

El Presidente had his little photo-op at Martin Luther King’s tomb, as threatened. You can find it here if you’re interested, though I can’t imagine why you would be. It was, as predicted, a hit-and-run visit–a few seconds with Coretta Scott King, 5 minutes to dump the wreath and have his picture taken, and then he was off to a $$$1.3MIL$$$ fund-raiser.

Incidentally, about that fund-raiser…. This Admin is so commercial that it charges–wait for it–$$$20,000$$$ for a picture with Junior. $$$20,000$$$. I can’t give mine away, but then I’m not the world’s first Western Emperor of Modern Times, which I suppose makes a difference. However, Junior’s supporters seem to be a group of world-class simps, judging by the one who’s quoted in the accompanying AJC article.

Dan Wykoff, a 23-year-old Georgia State University graduate from Lawrenceville, said he was impressed by the visit.”He’s one of the most sincere presidents we’ve had in 12 years. He’s compassionate,” Wykoff said. “I think it’s a sincere gesture to reconcile racial tension.”

There you go. Schedule a last-minute hit-and-run photo-op for these gullibles and you’ve just done everything you need to do to prove you’re “sincere”. Uh-huh. And this clown’s a graduate from one of the more prestigious universities in the country.

Maybe that’s the problem….

Largely unnoticed (certainly by Junior, who ignored them) was a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators chanting anti-Bush slogans and holding anti-Bush signs:

Despite the warm greeting he received at the Georgia World Congress Center, demonstrators at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change and on downtown streets expressed strong opposition to the president and his visit.Atlanta police estimated the King Center protesters numbered about 1,000. Two were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

“What the Bush administration stands for is the exact opposite of what Dr. King does,” said Beth Anne Matari, 51, of Atlanta, standing with a “War is not the answer” sign near the King Center, where police used MARTA buses to separate protesters from the president. “It’s hypocritical for him to come on Dr. King’s birthday.”

So not everybody was fooled. On the bright side, at least Junior didn’t have the demonstrators arrested as domestic terrorists, which is something, I guess.

The $$$2,000-a-plate$$$ dinner that was the actual focus of his visit was attended by a number of leading Georgia lights, including, predictably, Zell Miller (America’s main Republican-in-Democrat’s-clothing) and, disappointingly, Andrew Young, the Democratic ex-Mayor of Atlanta and a man who used to know better. But I suppose when the Emperor comes to town, you bow obediently or risk losing your head on the chopping block.

BTW, if you doubt that his trip to MLK’s tomb was more than a photo-op, you might take notice of the singular fact that, despite his supposed reverence for the murdered civil rights leader, Junior never–not once–made a reference to King in his speech either at that dinner or at the one he made earlier in the day in the Big Easy, which wasn’t easy since he was speaking in the same New Orleans church where King had spoken:

The president also attended a fund-raiser in New Orleans earlier in the day, where he promoted his faith-based initiatives to African-Americans.The White House defended both visits. “The president spoke earlier today at a church in New Orleans where Dr. King spoke in 1961,” said White House spokesman Taylor Gross. “It is important to this president to honor [King’s] memory and he has a commitment to building on Dr. King’s legacy of equal justice for all,”

“Important to honor his memory” but not to mention his name, apparently. That would have taken the concept of “honoring” too far for this President. After all, he might have risked having to say something about the parlous state of race relations in this country that his ultra-radical conservative base wouldn’t have appreciated. Can’t have that.

All in all, a shameful performance by a pretend president. So what else is new?

Update: What Junior Might Have Said (from an editorial in the Boston Globe by Abigail Thernstrom):

[T]he most discouraging news of all is that which has been barely discussed until very recently: the appalling racial gap in academic achievement in the K-12 years.That gap between whites and Asians on the one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other is the main source of ongoing racial inequality. Students who have equal skills and knowledge — whatever their color — will have roughly equal earnings. That was not true yesterday. It is today. Schooling has become the key to racial equality.

Here’s a brief glimpse of the racial gap in skills and knowledge:

On the nation’s most reliable tests — the National Assessment for Educational Progress — the typical black or Hispanic student at age 17 is scoring less well than at least 80 percent of his or her white classmates. On average, these non-Asian minority students are four years behind those who are white and Asian. They are finishing high school with a junior high education. Thus the employer hiring the typical black high school graduate (or the college that admits the average black student) is in effect choosing a youngster who has made it only through eighth grade.

In five of the seven subjects tested by NAEP, a majority of black students perform in the lowest category — Below Basic. And very few score at the top of the NAEP scale. In math, for instance, only 0.2 percent of black students fall into the Advanced category; the figure for whites is 11 times higher and for Asians 37 times higher. Again, Hispanic students are only slightly ahead of blacks. The racial gap in academic achievement is an educational crisis. But it is also the nation’s most important civil rights issue. King’s work remains unfinished. It’s time to join a new crusade — one dedicated to changing American education in ways that will truly create a level playing field. Tinkering around the edges of school reform will not do. We still need desperately the radical and imaginative leadership that King once so brilliantly provided.

That would be in the kind of speech that almost any other (rational) politician would make on such an occasion. You wouldn’t think it would be too much to ask from a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and the no-child-left-behind president, would you? But no, nothing like it.